Friday, December 26, 2008

The True Spirit of X-mas

It has virtually become a standing joke in my house – when the advertisements begin on TV, I grin and start saying, “I want this” even before either of my sons can. If the idea is to shame them into shunning avarice, it is not working – the moment my back is turned, they start pestering their father with their never-ending list of – “I want this” – everything from robot toys, to chocolates, to pizzas to the paints they already have three sets of ! The only thing I could be slightly happy about was purely semantic – at least they merely want things now, instead of needing them as they did till about a month back.

Their incessant demands have been grating even more since I heard that the kids of two of my friends decided to forego X-mas gifts this year because there are so many poor children who just can’t afford any. If kids the same age (or slightly older) than my older one can be so considerate and compassionate, why not mine? To make matters much worse, those kids stay in California where grinding poverty would be much less visible than in Bombay. Have I done something totally wrong with my kids to have them turn out this way?

Today, when my son told me he was utterly bored, I sat him down and gave him a lecture. Told him that he had a cupboard full of toys, and if he could not find even one toy that could amuse him, he could help me pack them up so we could give them to other kids who did not have any toys at all. Naturally, he did not like the idea – “but these are my toys”, he said.

“They may be, but you do not play with them, so we may as well give it to someone who will play with them”, I countered.

He did not like that too much, but after a long session, he agreed that he would only ask for the next toy after he gave away two of his existing toys to a kid who would play with them. Whether it is out of a feeling of charity, or because he would rather have new toys than old, I do not know, but I do hope it is a beginning.

But why are Indian kids growing up in India so demanding, and Indian kids in the States so generous? The only answer I can think of is peer pressure. Recession is new to the States, so perhaps the spirit of giving is being special importance in schools. Kids told by their teachers to shun gifts are more likely to do so than those told the same by their parents. And if a class-full of kids all decide not to ask for gifts, they are more likely to keep that promise than a single kid who sees all his friends flaunting the latest toys.

Is it too late to ask the school authorities to teach the kids a few lessons in caring for those less privileged than themselves? Or would that work only if all the schools do it at the same time? Maybe if we start now, before next X-mas, our kids would learn that it could be much more fun not to have as many gifts as they do have.


jordan shoes said...

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Natasha Ramarathnam said...

I may not say much, but I do say it everyday!!!


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